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Innovation or Imitation? The effect of spillovers and competitive pressure on firms' R&D strategy choice

  • Slivko, Olga
  • Theilen, Bernd

This article provides a theoretical and empirical analysis of a firm's optimal R&D strategy choice. In this paper a firm's R&D strategy is assumed to be endogenous and allowed to depend on both internal firms. characteristics and external factors. Firms choose between two strategies, either they engage in R&D or abstain from own R&D and imitate the outcomes of innovators. In the theoretical model this yields three types of equilibria in which either all firms innovate, some firms innovate and others imitate, or no firm innovates. Firms'equilibrium strategies crucially depend on external factors. We find that the efficiency of intellectual property rights protection positively affects firms'incentives to engage in R&D, while competitive pressure has a negative effect. In addition, smaller firms are found to be more likely to become imitators when the product is homogeneous and the level of spillovers is high. These results are supported by empirical evidence for German .rms from manufacturing and services sectors. Regarding social welfare our results indicate that strengthening intellectual property protection can have an ambiguous effect. In markets characterized by a high rate of innovation a reduction of intellectual property rights protection can discourage innovative performance substantially. However, a reduction of patent protection can also increase social welfare because it may induce imitation. This indicates that policy issues such as the optimal length and breadth of patent protection cannot be resolved without taking into account specific market and firm characteristics. Journal of Economic Literature Classification Numbers: C35, D43, L13, L22, O31. Keywords: Innovation; imitation; spillovers; product differentiation; market competition; intellectual property rights protection.

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Paper provided by Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2072/179618.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:urv:wpaper:2072/179618
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